Jun 8, 2021, 3:27 PM
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Pakistan’s new pilgrimage policy to boost religious tourism with Iran

Islamabad, June 8, IRNA -- Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mehmood Qureshi during his visit to Iran in April had discussed a new pilgrimage management policy with the host government and the sources say that Islamabad has recently shared a draft agreement of the policy with Tehran.

Local media quoting highly credible sources said that before sending the copies of the draft agreement with the governments of Iran, Iraq, and Syria, top officials of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Foreign Office held consultations with respective governments, and subsequently, the draft agreement was sent to these countries. After approval from the respective governments, it would come into force.

Under the policy approved by the federal cabinet, all tour operators would be registered with the Ministry of Religious Affairs and would get a license for running the travel company for pilgrims to Iran, Iraq, and Syria.

Pakistan’s new pilgrimage policy to boost religious tourism with Iran

Ferry service is also being launched from Karachi and Gwadar to Iran and Iraq and relevant communication with the Ministry of Maritimes in Islamabad has been completed. The governments of Iraq and Iran did not object to the ferry service from Pakistan.

The sources said due to security reasons, road travel would be gradually minimized and passengers would be shifted to ferry service which would be cost-effective and safe as well. Under the policy, it would be difficult to commit fraud with pilgrims by the tour operators, in case such practice is done, the license of the operator would be canceled.

A tour operator would provide a complete package to pilgrims, including food, transportation, and accommodation.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi during his recent visit to Iraq had also taken up the matter with the Iraqi interior minister who assured full cooperation from his government in this regard.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan has started working on the establishment of consulates in the Iraqi cities of Najaf Ashraf and Karbala to facilitate Pakistani pilgrims throughout the year.

According to facts and figures each year at least 120,000 Pakistani pilgrims travel to Iran especially in the months of Muharram and Safar and many of them after their pilgrimage to Mashhad and Qum also visit holy sites in Iraq and Syria.

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